For the second year in a row, SOAR High School has been named a California Distinguished School by the state’s Department of Education.

LANCASTER — The California Department of Education named SOAR High School a California Distinguished School for the second time in two years.

The program recognizes elementary, and middle and high schools in alternate years. This year, the state named 223 middle and high schools as 2021 California Distinguished Schools. Eligible schools are allowed to apply for the award once every two years. SOAR High was named a 2019 California Distinguished School previously.

“We are immensely proud of SOAR High School for being recognized for the second time in two years as a California Distinguished School,” Superintendent David Vierra said in a statement. “The staff, students and families at SOAR work diligently to ensure the continued success of this unique program.  This distinction affirms the original mission and vision of the school. Despite the challenges of the past year, SOAR continues to shine. This honor is much-deserved.”

SOAR is a collaboration between AV Union High School District and Antelope Valley College. Students attend classes on the AV College campus, where they can complete their high school diploma requirements and earn a two-year college degree.

“I am incredibly proud of our SOAR community for this outstanding recognition,” Principal Stephanie Herrera said. “The care and attention that our faculty, staff and parents put into our academics is evident with the success of our students. It has taken a special team to confront the challenges of this past year, especially in the early college high school setting. I am honored to lead these Super STARs who continue to SOAR.”

SOAR High was previously honored among the state’s best schools six years ago with a 2015 California Golden Ribbon Award, a temporary replacement for the Distinguished Schools Program. The school was also honored with a 2015 National Blue Ribbon Award from the US Department of Education as an exemplary high-performing school.

Sponsored by the California Department of Education, and presented by California Casualty, the Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance, according a description.

The eligibility criteria for schools under the Closing the Achievement Gap category includes that at least 40% of the student population is low-income on the 2018 and 2019 California School Dashboards.

Eligible schools also must have the highest percent of growth that met standard in English language arts or mathematics on the 2019 Dashboard for any of the targeted student groups such as African American, Hispanic, low-income, students with disabilities, foster youth, homeless, and/or English Learners.

For high schools, the all student group must be blue/green/yellow for the college/career indicator, and the graduation rate on the 2019 Dashboard.

Criteria under the Exceptional Student Performance category include that the all student group must be blue/green for both the English Language Arts and mathematics Indicators on the 2018 and 2019 Dashboards. For high schools, the all student group must be blue/green for the college/career indicator and the graduation rate on the 2019 Dashboard.

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